It’s not every day that an up-and-coming actor portrays a mortal with godlike powers, but that’s exactly what Brenton Thwaites got to do as Bek, in Lionsgate’s forthcoming action-packed fantasy film, “Gods of Egypt.” In order to bring his true love back to life, Bek, a clever mortal thief, teams up with the powerful and vengeful god Horus, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, to stop Set, the merciless god of darkness (Gerard Butler), who hopes to destroy both this life and the Afterlife.
In 2014, Thwaites appeared with Angelina Jolie in “Maleficent.” He recently told 24Life about the appeal and the physical and mental challenges of performing with the industry’s leading lights, and opposite real and magical CGI characters.
24Life: What did you like initially about this film project?
Brenton Thwaites (BT): What drew me into “Gods of Egypt” was the fantasy element. I’d worked on “Maleficent” and there was a little bit to “The Giver,” which I’d shot prior to “Gods of Egypt.” But “Gods” had a sense of magic to it, a sense of the fantastical that I’ve never really done before. I thought it would be a fun opportunity to explore with those challenges, the CGI characters and a lot of the landscapes as well. The world in general was pretty appealing.
I play a character called Bek, who is a mortal living amongst gods, and basically my true love is taken from me early in the movie. In order to get her back, I have to team up with the gods to restore order in Egypt, but my ulterior motive is to get her back and save her.
24Life: What was it like working with Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Gerard Butler, and playing opposite their characters?
BT: I enjoyed the scenes with Nikolaj and Gerard where they both have a lot of physical action mixed in with the drama. There’s a lot of stunts, very powerful moments, and I thought that the energy and the tension created between both those actors was great to watch. They both brought a really cool energy to the set. Gerard’s so powerful in the way he talks and his physicality, and just the pure energy that he brings to the set, it’s exciting to watch him.
24Life: Speaking of stunts, did you do them?
BT: There were a lot of stunts in this film. I flew to Sydney a month before shooting to get into shape and to take on the physicality of Bek. We talked about having kind of like a parkour nature to the character, because he’s always quick on his feet and he can scale buildings and jump from great heights to the floor and roll around and get away. I had a great stunt double, Blake Lindsell, the best parkour man in the world, and he would work with me. We would go over stunt sequences weeks in advance, so I would feel comfortable at the time.
I had this jump from a building that was like a story high. I had an actor friend walk in just as I was about to do the stunt, and the truth was, I was terrified. But he was there and I remember thinking, oh, this is fine, you know, my mate’s here, like I’ve got…you know, I’m doing a stunt, like he can see me do this cool jump. And I remember just before the stunt, I was thinking, man, I can’t do this, this is gnarly.
24Life: You did it.
BT: Yeah, I did it, it was fun. I mean, the thing is with stunts, it’s that first one that always feels like you’re gonna die, and then you do the first one and the rest are more fun.
24Life: What was the biggest physical challenge about the film?
BT: One of the biggest physical challenges would have to have been the repetition in a lot of the stunt sequences. There was so much physical action in a lot of the scenes that for months, every day there would be a big sequence. Your muscles get tight and sore, and having to get up early and stretch and work out and carry that energy all day, every day, was probably the hardest.
24Life: How about the mental prep?
BT: I think the mental prep was in line with the fitness prep. I find if I’m fit, physically, before a movie, mentally, I am as well. I try to eat well, run or work out or do whatever physicality the character’s doing, a couple of weeks or a month or sometimes three, four months before the film – just to get in the right physical space. It’s almost more for my mind.
However, with this film, it was so different every day and there’s
so many different pieces flying at you, it was important just to keep an open mind and not be too set on your way of acting in the scene, or a piece of dialogue that you like, or something cool to do. There are so many angles from the camera guys, the CGI guys, the studio, the director, it’s important to include them and collaborate with them on your performance.
24Life: What was your go-to routine to get ready before a day of shooting?
BT: As one of my routines, I would run to the set. I lived about five kilometers away from the set, so it about a three-mile run, listening to Ed Sheeran. So I think Ed Sheeran got me through this movie, thanks, Ed!
24Life: What do you do to recover from a physically demanding role?
BT: What I learned during the process of this film was the benefit of massage. After doing a long day of stunts, the importance of stretching and massage – I can’t stress that enough. The next day you feel ready to go.
24Life: And in general, what’s your favorite workout? Do you miss anything that you do in Australia?
BT: When I’m working I really enjoy intense full-body workouts in a short amount of time, incorporating weightlifting, athletics, stretching, all in the space of 25 to 30 minutes. I get bored if I’m working out for longer than 45 minutes. So, for me, personally, it’s important to have intense workouts that I can get done in like 30 minutes.
What I miss from Australia is surfing. Surfing is such a great workout as well as such a fun thing to do. It’s so natural for people in Australia to surf because the majority of us live by the coast, and it’s kind of how we’re raised. Also we have a tendency to mountain-climb a lot because where I lived there’s the Great Dividing Range, which is this beautiful mountain range that goes all up the east coast [of Australia]. It’s fun to do mountain runs and hikes and things like that.